Information on riding a bike in Holland: cycling regulations, functional requirements, road safety, commuting by bicycle, transporting children, sightseeing routes, Dutch national cycling association and local riding clubs…
The flat terrain and moderate climate of the Netherlands combined with municipal support of infrastructure make cycling a prime means of transportation. As small as it is, the Netherlands has 35,000 kms of dedicated bike paths and there are over 22.8 million bikes in this country of 17 million residents.
Using a bicycle to commute to work, get to school or drop a child off at daycare are common in the Netherlands. Approximately 27% of commuter trips are made by bicycle. Employee parking lots usually have as many bike stalls as they do parking spaces for cars. This is true of train station parking facilities as well.
Bicycles are allowed on trains in the Netherlands (except during rush hours) but require the purchase of a bike supplement ticket (Dagkaart Fiets). Current 2018 cost is €6.10. The supplement is valid for unlimited travel on the day of purchase.
Folding bikes are allowed on trains any time of day and do not require a bike supplement ticket.
Non-folding bikes are not allowed on buses or trams, but can be taken on ferries and the Waterbus at no extra cost, as well as the RandstadRail network (in South Holland) after 19:00 weekdays and all day on weekends.
Recreational cycling is equally as popular in the Netherlands. There are numerous sightseeing routes throughout the country which take cyclists past many of Holland’s historical windmills and castles, tulip fields and cheese farms, modern architectural highlights, sandy beaches, mud flats, green polders and engineering marvels that protect the low-lying country from flooding.
Routes are designated with green and white directional signage. Maps attached to posts along the routes show where you are currently located and what the next destination is in either direction. Each segment of the route is numbered.
You can plan your own trip by using the LF route planner
Dutch Cycling Organizations
- Stichting Landelijk Fietsplatform is the national cycling association in the Netherlands. It manages over 4,500km of the bike paths described above which are used primarily for sightseeing and recreational purposes.
- The KNWU is the Royal Dutch Cycling Federation and oversees cycling sports in the Netherlands including road, BMW, track, field, beach and mountain biking, paracycling and art-wheel riding.
- Fietersbond is the Dutch cyclists’ association. It lobbies for better and safer cycling conditions in the Netherlands.
- The Dutch Cycling Embassy is the Netherlands cycling knowledge institute and provides data to governmental organizations, Dutch and foreign businesses and cyclists.
- The ANWB is the Dutch automobile association and touring club. Besides driving, it is also involved with cycling in the Netherlands. It operates stores throughout the country where you can purchase bike route maps, cycling clothes and bike accessories. The ANWB offers its members bicycle checks, roadside breakdown assistance, insurance and cycling holidays among other benefits.
Cycling Rules in Holland
Safe cycling in the Netherlands is of utmost importance. Certain aspects of riding a bike in Holland are mandatory by law and are enforced at the municipal level by local police. Not adhering to one of these can result in a fine…
- Traffic Signals: You must stop for a red traffic light and only proceed once it has turned green. Some intersections have only have one green light, but most busier intersections have two or three green lights. At intersections with two green lights (one for vehicles, one for pedestrians), proceed only when the vehicle light has turned green. At intersections with three green lights, proceed when the bike light turns green. The green lights at these intersections are often staggered, with the pedestrian light turning green first, followed by the bicycle light and then the motor vehicle light. Cyclists turning right are allowed to proceed if the light is red after stopping to check for oncoming bicycle, vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
- Cycling on Sidewalks: You are not allowed to ride a bike on the sidewalk or through a pedestrian area.
- Designated Bike Lanes: You are required to cycling within a designated bike lane or on a dedicated bike path (marked with a circular blue sign) if either is available. A square blue sign with the word ‘Fietspad’ on it indicates and optional bike path.
- Cycling in Parks: You are not allowed to cycling on paths designated for pedestrians in parks, forests, woods or recreation areas.
- Cycling Abreast: Cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast as long as doing still leaves enough space for a faster traveling cyclist to pass. If there isn’t enough space, the cyclist on the left must move to the right side allowing for passage.
- Bicycle Lights: Your bicycle must be equipped with a functioning single solid white light on the front of the bike pointed forward and a solid red light on the rear of the bike.
- Signaling a Direction Change: Cyclists are required to extend their right arm directly out when preparing to make a right turn and extending their left arm directly out when planning to make a left turn.
- Transporting Children on a Bike: Children under the age of 8 years being transported on a bicycle must be secured in a childseat approved for their weight class.
- Cycling Under the Influence: You are not allowed to cycle with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.5% or are under the influence of drugs.
- Mobile Phone Use while Cycling: Currently it is not against the law to use a mobile phone while cycling. However, the Minister of Transport has announced she will be introducing a bill in 2018 to ban such activity.
- Riding an Electric Bike: The same road rules apply to an standard electric bike (i.e. maxiumum speed of 25 kph) as with a manually operated bicycle. Pedalic e-bikes (which can travel up to 45 kph) are subject to a different set of rules as these vehicles are grouped into the category of mopeds.
Additional Notes on Cycling in Holland
- Helmets: Wearing a helmet is NOT required under Dutch law.